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Posts Tagged ‘Santa Ana River Trail’

9-11 Memorial Fire Training Tower, as viewed from the Santa Ana River Trail

9-11 Memorial Fire Training Tower, as viewed from the Santa Ana River Trail

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Call me crazy, but I love getting up early on a Saturday morning to knock out two hours of running before my family wakes up. I like to call my husband minutes after he and the girls have rolled out of bed so I can gloat, I mean, so I can amaze him with the fact that I’ve just run 13 miles while he slept. He’s an excellent sport and he strokes my ego with the appropriate murmurings of how I’m insane (in a good way).

It did seem a little insane even to me when I left the house at 5:45 a.m. and the skyline looked like this:

palms outlined in the dark

Silhouettes of the palm trees at crazy-early-o’clock

I drove out to the Santa Ana River Trail and by the time I got out there, the sky had lightened considerably:

The Santa Ana River Trail, looking east at only slightly-crazy-early-o’clock

Saturday’s scheduled long run called for 12 miles at a 9:51 pace. The last time I ran 12 miles on the Santa Ana River Trail, our half marathon training group celebrated that group milestone with a post-run potluck breakfast. There would be no such feast after this run, but I was lucky enough to have something just as fun to look forward to. My former half marathon coach and now friend Stephanie generously offered to meet me at mile six to refuel me with a sports drink and some wonderful company for the last six miles of the run. Right on time, she met me on the trail and I didn’t even have to break stride as she helped me refill my sports bottle. What’s more, she offered a choice of homemade organic juice sports drink, or Gatorade! Give me organic homemade any day!

Wait a minute, let me interrupt, the training plan called for 12 miles at 9:51, but the title of this post says “13 Miles of Running Fun.” Yes, I had such fun chatting away with Stephanie that I forgot to keep track of the mileage. Good thing Stephanie spoke up or we could have ended up at the beach! (Not quite, but I felt so good I’d like to think I could have run all the way to Huntington). I also felt so great that I pushed the pace and finished the 13 miles at an average pace of 9:23 in just over 2 hours. Stephanie is a good sport to run an extra mile and faster than advertised. Plus she let me pick her running coach brain on the latest thoughts about dynamic warmups and ways to maintain good posture and form on the run. Who knew that the ladies can remind themselves to tighten their core by doing a few secretive Kegel exercises on the run?! I need all the posture and form reminders I can get. By the end of a race I am quite the hunchback. I might think my core is tight, my head is up, my shoulders are back and down, and my chin is in line with my chest, but the finish line photos prove otherwise!

The hunchback gives the thumbs-up at the finish of the OC Half Marathon

The most valuable thing I got out of this run, though, was the encouragement from someone I respect. If Stephanie thinks I look good at this point in my marathon training, I believe her and that makes me all the more excited about increasing the mileage over the coming weeks. So, Stephanie, about that 18-miler coming up…. I promise I won’t make it 19 if you’ll meet me for another 6! 😉

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Last we spoke I was planning to head to Zuma Beach in Malibu in the morning to preview the swim course for the Nautica Malibu Triathlon. That remained the plan this morning, right up to the moment my seven-year-old said, “I don’t feel so good.” Sure enough, the thermometer revealed a temperature of 100.7 degrees Fahrenheit. No beach day for us. I could have gone by myself, but I was following what I consider the first rule of open water swimming: Don’t swim in open water alone. If it were a protected, waveless cove with a lifeguard or a calm, shallow lake where my feet could touch the ground at all times, I might be willing to break that rule. Not in the open Pacific Ocean, without buoys, and with unknown lifeguard coverage. The whole point of going out there was to test the waters with waves and wind, and I wasn’t willing to risk swimming in those conditions alone, in spite of the fact that I am a strong swimmer who has never had a problem. That preview can wait a few more weeks, although the triathlon website helpfully reminds me that there are only 33 days until the event!

So, a monkey wrench got thrown into my workout plans. That brings me to what I consider an athlete’s most important quality. It’s not talent, speed, strength, or agility — it’s dedication. How dedicated was I to getting in a workout today? Could I bounce back and switch mental gears for a new plan? I had a choice to make. I could (1) scratch today’s workout altogether, (2) swim at the Y (an option until a friend helpfully texted the warning that the pool was closed “til further notice”), (3) pay a few dollars to swim at another outdoor pool facility, or (4) brave the heat wave and go for my regular Sunday long bike ride. It seems Southern California has a fever too:

Car external thermometer readout

My car’s external thermometer readout at the bike trailhead parking lot.

I hit the bike trail for an easy 10.3 miles with a few speed intervals thrown in. The 100-degree heat posed no problem as long as I stopped at the drinking fountains for a water bottle refill. The only issue was that the first water station was surrounded by about 30 homeless people. I was less worried about my safety or my water needs and more worried about the people who had to bear the dry, relentless heat we have been experiencing here. Thank goodness on the return route I saw that the reason so many people were gathered in that area was that the food truck arrived to serve an afternoon meal. I looked to see if I could spot a name on the truck so I could donate to that organization. Sadly I couldn’t see it and I wasn’t willing to stop because I already had a homeless guy joking with me that he wanted to hitch a ride on my aero bars! I smiled and rode on.

I love the Santa Ana River Trail and I have never felt unsafe there. Many homeless people live under the bridge underpasses but I have never had an issue with them. I won’t run west toward the beach by myself in the early morning, but I’d ride my bike no problem, and I’d run later in the day without worrying. The route east toward the wealthier suburbs are fine at any time. The trail is well enough used that it’s not a cause for concern. I’m cautious and smart and I listen to my female, internal warning system. (Don’t worry Mom and Dad! I know you’re reading this!) Bad things can happen anywhere no matter how smart and cautious you are, and I think of Sherri Arnold often, but more often than not I think of my getting out there as a small honor to her.

At any rate, today’s bike ride proved fun and uneventful. I approached Angel Stadium and the Honda Center in Anaheim:

Santa Ana River Trail view of Anaheim Stadium and Honda Center

Santa Ana River Trail view of Anaheim Stadium and the Honda Center

and eventually stood right under this:

The A at Angel Stadium

The A at Angel Stadium as viewed from the Santa Ana River Trail

Heavenly.

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